I don’t know a great deal about this pen. It is definitely a post-war item, and I believe the target market was likely people a little to either side of the age for entering university; it’s cheap, but it’s not tawdry. It has a point which unscrews from the section, something Platignum had offered, however quietly, since before the war.
One of the examples of this pen was sent to me by a person in Scotland who appreciated my own appreciation of the low-end and unregarded pen. So, that’s one in the eye for the stereotype of the grasping, miserly Scot– this is a free gift to an utter stranger. I’m scanning in an anonymized copy of the letter sent along with the pen, as much so that the rest of the world can see the nice handwriting as for its content. I also want to refer to an email which lead to that letter and the arrival of the pen, because there’s a tone of slightly-opposed nostalgia in it which I expect a lot of pen-fanciers will sympathize with:
My memories of Platignums were not fond, but the only ones I had during the latter years of primary school were the very cheapest ones which came in a bubble-pack from Woolworths. I know now that they made some more durable pens and some quite good calligraphy nibs, and of course they came from a firm which had an honourable history. Back then, though, they were the bane of my life, conferring ink-stained fingers and blotted copybooks upon me. Later I discovered the excellent Osmiroid 75 and the range of nibs they offered and they lasted me until I left school.
I stuck with fountain pens and have several De La Rues and Swans that I bought in junk shops and used as dip pens because neither sacs nor cork seals were available for a while…
If you replace Woolworth’s with Pinder’s Drugs, and Platignum with Sheaffer, that’s more or less my experience, although because the thing was self-inflicted there’s a litle more fondness in the memory. This is also a good lesson to manufacturers about the folly of hanging your name on horrible junk; the Varsity is far from being a great pen, but it’s pretty good and suffers mainly from association with the Woolworth’s Shirt Destroyers mentioned above.
Production Run: I will guess somwhere between 1955 and 1970. The prefix “PRESSMATIC” on the name imprinted upon the barrel suggests an alternative filler they were less anxious to brag about, and that makes for an start date before cartridges became transcendant.
Cost When New: No idea, but apparently quite inexpensive. If you can put me right on this or the dates of the thing, how about dropping a line?
Size: 13.6 cm long capped, 14.9 cm posted, 11.9 cm uncapped.
Point: Plated steel.
Body: Plastic, which I believe is polystyrene.
Filler: Press bar, capacity approx. 0.6 ml (no breather tube).
If you are relying on the preceding information to win a bet or impress a teacher, you should read the site’s scholarly caveat. Remember, this is the internet, and it’s full of bad information.